|Vinnie Paolizzi, a Philadelphia, Pa. resident and musician, also caddies at White Manor Country Club.|
Paolizzi picked to soundtrack #GAPMidAm video coverage
Philadelphia singer/songwriter and White Manor Country Club caddie Vinnie Paolizzi will be featured in GAPTV’s coverage of the Middle-Amateur Championship, set for May 24-25 at Overbrook Golf Club. The event’s 34th edition is presented by Callaway Golf.
Paolizzi, 22, of Philadelphia, Pa., graduated from Temple University in May 2016. An entrepreneurship and computer science for business major, Paolizzi funded his education by performing at coffee shops and open mic nights three to four times a week. A combination of AC/DC, Dave Matthews Band, Jackson Browne, John Mayer, Led Zeppelin and Bruce Springsteen influences his acoustic stylings.
“Vinnie’s music is earnest and catchy. It will flow nicely with our Middle-Amateur video packages,” Tony Regina, GAP Assistant Director of Communications, said. “We’re trying to connect our organization and its storied history with Philadelphia’s musical scene. We started this effort during last year’s Middle-Amateur and are hoping to expand it tenfold in 2017. Working with Vinnie is a great start.”
A shoulder injury incurred during the freshmen baseball season opened Paolizzi’s eyes to golf.
“I couldn’t really do any motion over the top, so I started hitting golf balls all of the time,” he said.
For three years, Paolizzi started every match for the West Chester East golf team and served as captain during his senior year. He spent four to five days a week at White Manor, earning loops and learning along the way.
“It’s the best job I’ve ever had. I’ve gotten more friends and connections through caddying than any other place,” Paolizzi said. “I went on tour last year and all of my flights were paid for by a member at White Manor who had all of these leftover miles. I have 100 stories like that.”
One of those stories involves a member who made an impressionable Paolizzi, then 14, question his source of income.
“He was a loose cannon. Every hole, he was either laughing and joking with everyone or throwing things,” Paolizzi said. “On No. 9, he hit a bad wedge and throws it at least 50 yards down the hill. I’ve never seen anyone throw a club like that. He made me go get it. I come back and he says, ‘You know why I didn’t hit that right? The serial number is wrong. This is my son’s.’ He makes me go the parking lot, find his wedge in his car and bring it back to him. We’re holding people up at that point.”
Matters escalated when the group arrived at White Manor’s 13th hole, a severe dogleg right with a foreboding water hazard.
“I think they were dredging the pond then. [The member] hits it in there and says, ‘I think I can go get it. There isn’t any water in there and it’s sitting on top of the mud,’” Paolizzi said. “He goes in and sinks immediately. He played the rest of the round in wet, nasty shoes. After the round, he threw me another $20 at me from the top of the steps. He said, ‘Clean my shoes, will you?’ I thought, ‘Is this how caddying works? Is this what I have to do?’”
Paolizzi is quick to share a more uplifting story, one sprinkled with sports celebrities. The Arizona Diamondbacks came to town for a series against the Philadelphia Phillies. Four of their pitchers played a round at White Manor during the trip, enlisting Paolizzi as a caddie.
“Afterwards, their cab never showed up, so in my 2002 [Chevrolet] Monte Carlo SS, I fit four Major League Baseball players and drove into the city for the first time,” he said. “I was terrified — the amount of money that was in my car. It was one of those moments where you think, ‘Is this really what I’m doing today?’"
What Paolizzi does these days is music. At age 12, he — out of boredom, intrigue or a mixture of the two — became obsessed.
“I thought it was cool. I wanted to be in AC/DC or Led Zeppelin,” he said. “I got a crappy guitar that my sister had and a fake drum set that was lying around my house. I played at least an hour or two a day all through high school. My parents really love music but never played. We always had records and CDs playing in our house. I didn’t have any natural ability; I kind of liked to mess with stuff. I was into fixing things. Music was another puzzle.”
Paolizzi took guitar lessons for seven months with his uncle, Jerry Piombino, and dabbled in bands throughout his high school years at West Chester East. He set off on a solo path come college. A throwback purist with a passion for lyrics, Paolizzi whittled 50 bedroom-penned tunes into the five-track EP, “Waiting on Me,” released in February 2015. Songs such as “Through the Noise” paint a clear self-portrait. “I’m not your ‘American Idol.’ I’ll never try out for ‘The Voice.’ I’m just a singer with an old guitar, trying to make my way through the noise,” he croons. That guitar generates authentic, Americana-infused licks that mean more than 15 seconds of fame.
“It’s not really about your talent sometimes, which drives me crazy. It’s about, ‘Can you bring 30 people to this place?’ It doesn’t matter if you’re good or if your music will fit with the other bands that are playing,” Paolizzi said. “It’s frustrating for somebody like me who’s just getting started, but that’s kind of how you have to do it these days.”
And that’s OK with Paolizzi. He performed in eight different states in 2016 and continues to populate his gig schedule. Paolizzi is committed to his music full-time, sprinkling in loops at White Manor here and there.
“I’m not looking to be Mariah Carey or Miley Cyrus. I’m not looking to sell out the Wells Fargo Center. I want to be able to have a nice draw,” he said. “If I can kind of build a career where some days I’m in a session recording background vocals, another I’m playing my own music and doing guitar solos, then I’m on tour for three to four months … that’s the dream, as they say.”
Callaway Golf was founded in 1982 by the late Ely Callaway, a visionary entrepreneur who operated under a simple but profound business promise: Deliver Demonstrably Superior, Pleasingly Different products and services. That philosophy turned what was originally a boutique manufacturer of high-quality wedges and putters into the world's largest maker of premium, performance golf products. The Callaway mission and vision has remained the same; we passionately pursue advanced, innovative technologies that help golfers of all abilities find more enjoyment from the game. Under the Callaway and Odyssey brands, Callaway manufactures and sells golf clubs and golf balls, and sells golf apparel, footwear and accessories in more than 110 countries worldwide.
Golf Association of Philadelphia
Founded in 1897, the Golf Association of Philadelphia (GAP) is the oldest regional golf association in the United States and serves as the principal ruling body of amateur golf in its region. Its 153 Full Member Clubs and 57,000 individual members are spread across parts of Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware. As Philadelphia’s Most Trusted Source of Golf Information, the Golf Association of Philadelphia’s mission is to promote, preserve and protect the game of golf.